In Order to Form a More Perfect Union…

So the midterm elections happened yesterday, and as you may have guessed, things didn’t exactly go the way that I’d hoped.

I went out and voted against Rick Scott, but it seems that enough of my neighbors want him around for another term that I’m going to have to live with that. We also voted down medical marijuana in Florida, which seems stupid. And we didn’t even have a same-sex marriage proposal on the ballot, which even seems stupider.

As a result, I don’t really expect much to come out of the next couple of years, not that we’ve seen leaps and strides in the past couple of years anyways. It’s made me think more about what an ideal country would look like to me, so in an attempt to push depressing politics back out of my head to make room for holiday happy fun time, here are a few of those thoughts in my own little world…

Voting Overhaul
The fact that only 40% of the public who’s able to vote turn out for midterms and 60% for a big presidential election is embarrassing and should be one of the top priorities of a government that values representation of the people. I won’t even get into voter ID, but as a general rule we should be making voting in this country more accessible, not less.

Why can’t I vote from the Internet? Why can’t I vote from an election app that I download to my phone? Why can’t I text a short code to vote like people do for American Idol each week?!

Also, a big pet peeve of mine is misinformed voters, myself included because yesterday I didn’t know who in the hell half of the local seats on my ballot even were! This is 2014 and we carry amazing technology in our pockets – the voting experience should be far more expansive and informative than it is today.

Equal Rights
I’m done talking about it and it’s embarrassing to look back at our country’s history and see how many examples of some people thinking that they’re better than others we have on our books. Gays should be able to marry and buy things from public businesses without discrimination now, and the Supreme Court should be swift at dealing with new iterations of civil rights movements when they come up in the future.

Fuck the public opinion. If you don’t think the guy standing next to you should be able to do something that you freely do today, then you’re wrong.

Money in Politics
Rick Scott won his re-election by spending a record $100 million on his campaign this year.

It’s time to level the playing field – fund each candidate equally from a preset campaign fund or something. The guys with the deepest pockets shouldn’t automatically get a free ride.

Conflicts of Interest
And while we’re ranting about my governor, conflicts of interest should automatically exclude you for running for office. Period. None of this “But I transferred all of my assets to my wife, so *I* don’t have a conflict of interest.” or “It’s in a double-blind trust, so *I* wouldn’t have even known that I was making millions from that law!”

I think as a general statement, we need politicians who are in it to serve their country and if you’ve spent most of your life cannibalizing a certain industry that you’ll have influence over as a politician, then maybe you should step aside and let somebody else do it.

Term Limits
Why is it that Presidents only sit for 4 years at a time and can only be re-elected twice, yet senators sit for 6 years at a time and can be re-elected infinitely???

This one is simple and Warren Buffett already said it – you set specific budgetary targets and no one is allowed to get re-elected if you miss them. A lot of our congressional standstill over the past years has been the fault of both sides not working together – if they can’t play nice, we find somebody else and let them give it a shot.

Single payer so that we can finally knock down some of the costs that make healthcare cost nearly double what they cost per capita for the rest of the free world.

I honestly think we need to de-stigmatize the idea that paying taxes is bad and tax increases are bad because point blank, if you don’t want to cut your budget and you don’t want a mountainous debt, you have to raise taxes. It’s simple math.

Now that’s not to say that we shouldn’t look to cut spending – we should definitely be reexamining the areas where we spend money all of the time, but we should be looking for efficiencies and ways to better stretch our dollars instead of the slash and burn that takes place today. And especially in a day when we’re watching unemployment like a hawk, we need to remember that every cut – even the military – costs American jobs. We need to spend our money smarter, and a lot more of it domestically.

What is it good for? We spend so much money in this sector alone and it’s very controversial … maybe it’s time to accept that we shouldn’t be playing world police when there’s so much to fix back at home. In the long run you can help so many more people after you’ve properly taken care of yourself…

Social Welfare
If capitalism can’t take care of our people then the government has to step in to pick up the slack, yet few people seem to point fingers at our businesses when they complain about welfare moochers living off the system.

Personally I think that aside from targeting obvious cases of fraud, it’s fruitless to focus on the people relying on these benefits because they don’t have any control over it in the first place. Instead, look out to the employment rate and the underemployment stats to see the real culprits – why don’t we have jobs for these people to work, and why do they still need benefits if they’ve already got a job in the first place?! We need to stop rewarding businesses with tax breaks for coming to our states and instead make it an expectation that American businesses that profit off of Americans operate in America and pay American taxes. Government should be the ones governing, not the other way around – businesses don’t get to make their own rules when the people themselves are left suffering.

Education and Learning
Two pieces – public schools, we need to stop fracturing them with charter schools that siphon off funds that are desperately needed. A public school education should be good enough for anyone who doesn’t require a religious influence in the classroom, and if it isn’t, we need to work towards fixing those classrooms – not providing a backdoor for those able to sneak out while the rest have to linger and suffer.

And for higher education, good god, is this an area where regulation is required. Actually, a lot of areas in our country require regulation because the free market is a great idea until you remember that a lot of people are greedy assholes who will take the wooden leg out from under you if they can get a dollar for it down the street! College costs are too high and college debt is way too easy to acquire and way too difficult to pay back by the time you actually have a job paying more than minimum wage. The solution needs to come from both ends – lower costs in school and more challenging student loans that less resemble mortgage terms than they do today.

The Minimum Wage
What do you need … to live???

It would be one thing if our nation’s corporations weren’t making more profits than they ever have in history, or if income inequality didn’t make the six heirs of a company like Walmart worth more than nearly half the country. Greed is ruining America and it’s things like this that make people laugh when we brag about America being the greatest country in the world!

The greatest country in the world shouldn’t have full-time workers living in poverty and on public assistance – that’s the whole point of why the minimum wage was created in the first place. The wage needs to go up, and employers need to raise it without just dumping the added costs back onto consumers. Maybe that means weighing profits against wages – I don’t know, but this is a big issue and most politicians don’t care because they have a conflict of interest to keep things just the way they are…

Gun Control
I don’t know the answer, but the serious talks should’ve started two years ago and the fact that we’ve had 71 school shootings since Sandy Hook says simply that we’ve failed our children in keeping them safe. We need to stop letting the NRA point at the 2nd amendment and make any talk about gun control off limits. There are no doubt many facets to the actual solution, but right now all we do is point fingers and cry, “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”

Tell that to the 50 kids who got slaughtered in their own classrooms in the last two years while you were bickering about people taking away your guns.

A Nation of Science
Right now a lot of the polarization in our country is because people deny science in favor of their religious preferences, and while beliefs are certainly a powerful thing, how did we get to this place that beliefs carry more weight in the public eye than provable facts???

We know that the earth is more than 6,000 years old. We know that homosexuality is a born trait found in many species besides humans. We know that mankind is contributing negatively to our environment and the result is global climate change. We know that there are limited numbers of non-renewable resources in the ground and that eventually we’ll need to embrace better forms of energy. We know how many of the catastrophic diseases throughout history behave and how to effectively deal with them in a modern society…

…yet we allow millions of people to be dissuaded from fact to instead follow the various talking heads in their lives down roads that are scientifically inept. We have some of the smartest minds in the world who create the phones that we use every day, but we can’t develop a way to keep their manufacture affordable in America to employ our own citizens instead of thousands more halfway around the world for pennies on the dollar?

Collectively America is one of the dumbest smart countries on the globe because we have so much great intelligence and we allow it to get overruled by the couple down the street that refuses to vaccine their kids because of something that a super model told them on TV! We allow companies to convince our desperate public that things like fracking are ok when in reality they’re both ruining the environment and creating flammable drinking water at the same time!

I get that religion is a big deal for a bulk of Americans, but religion and science are not the same thing and we need to stop letting religions play the victim and treat them as an equivalent. The very basic definition of science being explanations based on repeatable tests that are built upon over time is one of the first things taught about the subject, yet it’s lost on so many adults who fear it in favor of their almighty god.

Did I cover everything?! 😉

Scottland (not to be confused with the other one) may not be a perfect nation, but this should give us enough to get started and we can build from them as we go. And we don’t expect to get everything to change over night, but one of the things that we should insist on at the polls that we certainly don’t do today is actually seeing those results and ousting our officials when they fail to move the status quo forward in a positive direction.

America may have a lot of room for improvement … a lot! But at least we’ve proven that we can get better – we just need to push ourselves to get there faster so that entire generations aren’t lost as we stumble through so many of these issues that other countries have already solved for themselves. It’s ok to take a cue from the guy next to you when you’re stuck on a problem, but America is globally known as a very arrogant country.

As it’s been said all too eloquently, the first step in solving a problem is recognizing that you have one, and we currently have no shortage of problems to pick from around here.

So what are we waiting for???

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